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Georgian–Ossetian conflict
Location of South Ossetia within Georgia.
LocationSouth Ossetia, Georgia
Flag of Georgia.svg Georgia Flag of South Ossetia.svg South Ossetia
Russia Russia

The Georgian–Ossetian conflict is an ongoing ethno-political conflict over Georgia's autonomous region of South Ossetia, which evolved in 1989 and developed into a 1991–1992 South Ossetia War. Despite a declared ceasefire and numerous peace efforts, the conflict remains unresolved, and minor armed incidents persist. In August 2008, diplomatic tensions and clashes between Georgia and South Ossetia erupted into the Russia–Georgia war.

Origins of the conflict

The conflict between Georgian and Ossetians dates back until at least 1918. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Georgia stayed Menshevik controlled, while the Bolsheviks took control of Russia. In June 1920, a Russian-sponsored Ossetian force attacked the Georgian Army and People's Guard. The Georgian's responded vigorously and defeated the insurgents, with several Ossetian villages being burnt down and 20,000 Ossetians displaced in Soviet Russia.[1] Eight months later, the Red Army successfully invaded Georgia[2] and in 1922 the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast was created.

In the late 1980s, when the perestroika policy initiated by Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, caused rising nationalism in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) and the country moved towards independence, it was opposed by the Ossetian nationalistic organization, Ademon Nykhas (Popular Front). Created in 1988, Ademon Nykhas demanded greater autonomy for the region and finally, unification with Russia’s North Ossetia. On November 10, 1989, the South Ossetian Supreme Soviet approved a decision to unite South Ossetia with the North Ossetian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. However, a day later, the Georgian SSR Supreme Soviet revoked the decision and on 23 November, thousands of Georgian nationalists led by Zviad Gamsakhurdia and other opposition leaders marched to Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, to hold a meeting there. The Ossetians mobilized blocking the road and only the interference of Soviet Army units avoided a clash between the two demonstrations. The Soviet commanders made the Georgian demonstrators turn back. However, several people were wounded in subsequent clashes between Georgians and Ossetians.

By the beginning of 1990 South Ossetian forces had 300-400 poorly armed fighters, however their number grew to about 1,500 in six-months time. The main source of small arms for South Ossetian militias was the Soviet Army helicopter regiment based in Tskhinvali.[citation needed] Ethnic Georgians in neighbouring villages also organised a self-defence force known as the Merab Kostava Society. Rivalling militias engaged in sporadic low-level fighting.[3]

The Georgian Supreme Council adopted a law barring regional parties in the summer of 1990. This was interpreted by Ossetians as a move against Ademon Nykhas and on September 20, 1990, the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast declared independence as the South Ossetian Democratic Soviet Republic, appealing to Moscow to recognise it as an independent subject of the Soviet Union. When the election of the Georgian Supreme Council took place in October 1990, it was boycotted by the South Ossetians. On December 10, 1990, South Ossetia held its own elections, declared illegal by Georgia. A day later, the Georgian Supreme Soviet cancelled the results of the Ossetian elections and abolished South Ossetian autonomy.[4]

On December 11, 1990, several bloody incidents occurred in and around Tskhinvali. The Georgian government declared a state of emergency in the districts of Tskhinvali and Java on December 12. Georgian police and National Guards units were dispatched in the region to disarm Ossetian armed groups.

At the time of the dissolution of the USSR, the United States government recognised as legitimate the pre-Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 1933 borders of the country (the Franklin D. Roosevelt government established diplomatic relations with the Kremlin at the end of that year).[5] Because of this, the George H. W. Bush administration openly supported the restoration of independence of the Baltic SSRs, but regarded the questions relating to the independence and territorial conflicts of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the rest of the Transcaucasus — which were integral part of the USSR with international borders unaltered since the 1920s — as internal Soviet affairs.[6]

The conflict and tensions timeline

1918–1920 South Ossetia conflict

The Georgian–Ossetian conflict (1918–1920) comprised a series of uprisings, which took place in the Ossetian-inhabited areas of what is now South Ossetia, a breakaway republic in Georgia, against the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and then the Menshevik-dominated Democratic Republic of Georgia which claimed several thousand lives.

The 1991–1992 South Ossetia War

Georgian–Ossetian conflicts

Hatched shading shows Georgian-controlled areas in South Ossetia in June 2007, according to JPKF.[7]

The Ossetian–Georgian tensions escalated into a 1991–1992 war which killed some 1,000 people.

The ceasefire

Georgian and Ossetian sides began Russian and OSCE-mediated negotiations on peaceful resolution of the conflict on October 30, 1995. The major break through in negotiation happened in May 1996 when the two sides signed a 'Memorandum on measures for providing security and joint confidence' in which the two sides renounced the use of force in future.[8] This was followed up by several meetings between then-President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, and de facto President of South Ossetia Ludwig Chibirov, and their respective heads of governments.

Refugees resettled in the zone of conflict but still only in small numbers, the major obstacle being the economic situation in the region. Numerous small steps of co-operation between Georgians and Ossetians took place.

During this time there was an absence of central control over the region.[9] The Ergneti market on the outskirts of Tskhinvali was a large trade hub through which smuggling lost Georgia significant revenue.[9] This trade increased support for the breakaway Kokoity regime.[9] The unresolved conflict encouraged development of such illegal activities as kidnapping, drug-trafficking and arms trading.[10]

The 2004 flare-up

Detailed map of South Ossetia showing the secessionist and Georgian-controlled territories, November 2004.

A brief military clash occurred in August 2004. After several days of fighting, negotiations brought an uneasy peace.

When Mikheil Saakashvili was elected President in 2003, he made his goals clear to return the two breakaway regions of Georgia under central control. He chose NATO, especially the U.S. as his key allies in foreign policy, in exchange he received financial and material support from western countries. U.S. advisers started to train Georgian forces to make them professional in unequal style fighting against militants under the aegis of "War on Terrorism". Georgia became the third largest participant of U.S. coalition in terms of numbers after U.S. and U.K.. Georgia received free weapons from U.S., Israel, Germany, and Baltic states. The country's military budget, replenished with U.S. aid, increased steadily since Saakashvili's entering to office. In this situation, tensions between Georgia and its breakaway republics were on the rise. In May 2004, following the success in another poorly-controlled province of Ajara (the Ajars are closer to ethnic Georgians), President Mikheil Saakashvili’s government turned their attention to South Ossetia. In 2005 Saakashvili offered humanitarian aid to both the Georgian and Ossetian population and promised to give the region broad autonomy.[11]

In mid-June, Georgian police shut down the Ergneti market, which was a major trading point for tax-free goods from Russia. These Georgian actions made the situation more tense. In retaliation, South Ossetian forces closed the highway between Russia and Georgia for several days. Georgia's regional administration began to restore the roads between Georgian-populated Patara Liakhvi and Didi Liakhvi gorges by-passing separatist-controlled capital Tskhinvali and dispatched military patrols to control them. On July 7, Georgian peacekeepers intercepted a Russian convoy, which led to tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow. The next day, around 50 Georgian policemen were disarmed and detained by the South Ossetian militias. In retaliation, Saakashvili refused to attend peace talks. Large numbers of Georgians moved into the border areas, and there was frequent artillery fire for several days. The Georgian soldiers captured were all released on July 9, with three exceptions.

A Georgian sniper takes aim at Ossetian rebels.

Tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow continued to worsen when the Russian Duma passed a resolution supporting the South Ossetian secessionists. The fellow unrecognized states Abkhazia and Transnistria, Cossack communities of Russia and the North Ossetians promised to support South Ossetia if Georgia attacked. Hundreds of Russian volunteers, mainly Cossacks, arrived in South Ossetia to defend the separatist government.

A ceasefire deal was reached on August 13, after three nights of gun and mortar fire. The agreement was signed by the Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and South Ossetian de facto President Eduard Kokoity. However, the agreement was violated shortly after the signing. The bloodiest clashes occurred on August 18 and August 19. On August 19, after overnight fighting with several killed and wounded on the both sides, Georgian forces seized several strategic hills near the Ossetian village of Trianakhana, that were held by dug-in South Ossetian forces supported by Russian Cossack volunteers. However, shortly after the successful operation, President Mikheil Saakashvili announced that Georgia would give "a last chance for peace" to the South Ossetians and added that Tbilisi would pull out its non-peacekeeping troops from the conflict zone in exchange for peace. Georgian troops handed over the strategic hilltops in the conflict zone to the joint peacekeeping forces later that day. As reported, 16 Georgians and dozens of Ossetian and Russian volunteers lost their lives during the August fighting.

At a high level meeting between Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity on November 5 in Sochi, Russia, an agreement on demilitarization of the conflict zone was signed. Sporadic exchanges of fire continued in the zone of conflict, however.[citation needed]

New peace efforts

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili presented a new vision for resolving the South Ossetian conflict at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session in Strasbourg, on January 26, 2005. His proposal included broader forms of autonomy, including a constitutional guarantee of free and directly elected local self-governance. Saakashvili stated that South Ossetia's parliament would have control over issues such as culture, education, social policy, economic policy, public order, organization of local self-governance and environmental protection. At the same time South Ossetia would have a voice in the national structures of government as well, with a constitutional guarantee of representation in the judicial and constitutional-judicial branches and in the Parliament. Georgia would commit to improving the economic and social conditions of South Ossetian inhabitants. Saakashvili proposed a transitional 3-year conflict resolution period, during which time mixed Georgian and Ossetian police forces, under the guidance and auspices of international organizations, would be established and Ossetian forces would gradually be integrated into a united Georgian Armed Forces. Saakashvili also said that the international community should play a more "significant" and "visible" role in solving this conflict.

2006 attack on a Georgian helicopter

On September 3, 2006, the South Ossetian forces opened fire at a Georgian MI-8 helicopter carrying Defense Minister of Georgia, Irakli Okruashvili, and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Georgian armed forces, when it flew over the separatist-held territory. Although the South Ossetian authorities reported that the Georgian helicopter was "shot down", it was only slightly damaged and landed safely in Georgian government-controlled territory. Later, the South Ossetian officials confirmed their troops were responsible for the attack, saying that the entering of the Georgian helicopter to Ossetian air space is "clear provocation", but rejected the claim that the aircraft was targeted because of prior intelligence that Okruashvili was on board.[12]

2006 October incident

On October 31, 2006, the South Ossetian police reported a skirmish in the Java, Georgia district in which they killed a group of 4 men.[13][14] The weapons seized from the group included assault rifles, guns, grenade launchers, grenades and explosive devices. Other items found in the militants' possession included extremist Islamic literature, maps of Java district and sets of Russian peacekeeping uniforms. Those findings led the South Ossetian authorities to conclude that the militants were planning to carry out acts of sabotage, thus raising tensions ahead of the independence referendum scheduled for November 12, 2006. The South Ossetian authorities identified the men as Kist Chechens, many of whom live in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. South Ossetia has accused Georgia of hiring the Chechen mercenaries to carry out terrorist attacks in the region. Russia has previously accused Georgia of harbouring Chechen separatists in the gorge.[citation needed]

The Georgian side flatly denied its involvement in the incident. Shota Khizanishvilia, a spokesperson for the Georgian Interior Ministry, supposed that the incident could be connected to "internal conflicts in South Ossetia".[citation needed]

Rival elections of 2006

On November 12, 2006, two rival elections and simultaneous referendums were held in South Ossetia. The separatist-controlled part of the region reelected Eduard Kokoity as de facto president and voted for independence from Georgia. In the areas under Georgia's control, the Ossetian opposition, with unofficial backing from Tbilisi, organized rival polls electing Dmitry Sanakoyev, the former premier in the secessionist government, as an "alternative president" and voted for negotiations with Georgia on a future federal agreement. Both Tskhinvali and Moscow denounced the move as Georgia's attempt to install "a puppet government" in the conflict zone.

Georgia's new initiative

On May 10, 2007, Tbilisi-backed Dmitry Sanakoyev was appointed as head of the South Ossetian Provisional Administrative Entity by the President of Georgia. The next day, Sanakoyev addressed the Parliament of Georgia, outlining his vision of the conflict resolution plan (full text).[15] This move earned approval from the United States State Department,[citation needed] but alarmed the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali.[citation needed] The South Ossetian separatists threatened to oust Sanakoyev’s government by force.[citation needed] However, this met with Russia's disapproval.[Clarification needed][16]

On July 24, 2007, Tbilisi held its first state commission to define South Ossetia's status within the Georgian state. Chaired by Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli, the commission included ruling National Movement Party lawmakers, an opposition party member, civil society advocates, Dmitry Sanakoyev, and representatives of the Ossetian community in Georgia. Georgian officials announced that they would welcome the involvement of Kokoity's envoys, but the Tskhinvali government refused to participate. In response, Sanakoyev's supporters launched a campaign "Kokoity Fanderast" or "Kokoity Farewell" in Ossetic.

Tsitelubani missile incident 2007

On August 7, 2007, a missile landed, but did not explode, in the Georgian-controlled village of Tsitelubani, some 65 km (40 mi) north of Tbilisi. Georgian officials said that two Russian fighter jets violated its airspace and fired a missile, targeting a nearby Georgian radar outpost.[17] Russian and South Ossetian authorities accused Georgia of staging a false flag operation in order to provoke tension in the region. Two investigative groups from NATO countries - Shaakasvili's key allies - reported that the jet entered Georgian airspace from Russia, but Russian officials rejected this conclusion, citing their own investigation.[18]

2008 clashes

During the 2004 clashes: men from the 113th elite battalion from the Georgian army are charging up a hill where Ossetian rebels are entrenched. They are shooting from their positions on top on that hill.

On the night of June 14 into the early morning of June 15, 2008, mortar fire and an exchange of gunfire were reported between South Ossetian and Georgian forces. South Ossetia reported that mortar fire was launched from Georgian-controlled villages on Tshinkvali, the South Ossetian capital, and that their forces came under fire from Georgian forces on the outskirts of the capital. Georgia denies firing the first shot claiming instead that South Ossetia had attacked the Georgian-controlled villages.[19] Russian, Georgian, and North Ossetia peacekeepers as well as OSCE monitors went to the site of the clashes, but it was not determined who fired the first shot. One person was killed and four wounded during the violence.[20]

A South Ossetian police official was killed in a bomb attack on July 3, 2008 and this was followed by an intense exchange of gun fire. Later a convoy carrying the leader of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration, Dmitry Sanakoyev, was attacked and three of his security guards injured. On July 4, 2008 two people were killed as a result of shelling and shooting in Tskhinvali and some villages in South Ossetia. The South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported that a South Ossetian militiaman had been killed and another injured in an attack on a police post in the village of Ubia and this was followed by the shelling of Tskhinvali, which resulted in the death of one man. The shelling reportedly involved the use of mortars and grenade launchers. Georgia claimed it had opened fire in response to the shelling by South Ossetian militiamen of Georgian-controlled villages.[21] South Ossetia called up military reservists and put its security forces on alert in response to the clashes. The head of Russia's peacekeeping troops in the region was quoted as saying extra soldiers could be deployed if the stand-off worsened.[22] South Ossetia warned it would move heavy weaponry into the conflict zone with Georgia if attacks on the republic were not stopped. [23]

The Georgian Ministry of Defense said on July 7, 2008 a group of up to ten militiamen were apparently prevented from placing mines on a Georgian-controlled by-pass road linking the Georgian villages in the north of Tskhinvali with the rest of Georgia. The Georgian side opened fire and the group was forced to retreat towards the nearby South Ossetian-controlled village. On July 8, 2008 South Ossetia reported that it had detained four "officers from the artillery brigade of the Georgian Ministry of Defense" close to the village of Okona in the Znauri district at the administrative border the night before.[24] Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told police to prepare an operation to free the four soldiers, but they were released before an operation was launched.[25]

Russian military jets flew into Georgian airspace through South Ossetia on July 9, 2008 and then returned to Russia. The next day, the Russian authorities confirmed the flight and said, in an official statement, that the fighters were sent to prevent Georgia from launching an operation to free the four soldiers detained by South Ossetia.[26] In response, Georgia recalled its ambassador to Moscow "for consultations", stating that it was "outraged by Russia's aggressive policies."[27]

The incident coincided with the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tbilisi where she pledged the U.S. support for Georgia's bid to join NATO. She said that granting NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia would help resolve the Abkhaz and South Ossetian problems. The statement caused a negative outcry in Moscow: the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov responded, during his meeting with the de facto Abkhaz president Sergey Bagapsh, that Georgia’s NATO integration process "may undermine the conflict resolution" process.[28] On July 11, 2008, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the conflict zones.[29]

A South Ossetian envoy on July 11, 2008 declared that South Ossetia was capable of repelling any attack by Georgia without help from Moscow and also said the mainly Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone should be increased.[30] The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement the same day that measures have been taken "to increase combat readiness" of the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Abkhazia. It also said that security had been tightened at the Russian peacekeepers’ base camps, observation posts and checkpoints, and "additional training" of the peacekeeping personnel had been conducted "to explain regulations of use of firearm while on duty."[31] Nika Rurua, Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, warned that Georgia would shoot down Russia’s military aircraft in case they appear in its airspace again and an initiative was considered to this effect, but decided instead to appeal to the world community on the matter. Media reports published information about Russia’s alleged plans to seize the Kodori Gorge specifying that the details of the operation were worked out by Russian high-ranking military officials, with Abkhazia’s President Sergey Bagapsh. Russia reportedly considered responding[dated info] by revealing the details of a planned military invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia to release their detained officers.[32]

On July 14, 2008 Georgia's deputy defense minister Batu Kutelia said Georgia plans to expand its military more than 15 percent to 37,000 soldiers following events in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The additional manpower would be used to defend Georgia's airspace and the Black Sea coast.[33] On July 15, 2008 the U.S. and Russia both began exercises in the Caucasus though Russia denies the timing was intentional.[34] The Russian exercises included training to support peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia claimed the exercises were a manifestation of Russian aggression against it.[35]

The US exercises were part of "Exercise Immediate Response 2008"and included forces from the United States, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.[36] 1,000 US troops were involved, in addition to the 127 trainers already in Georgia. The exercise concluded August 7.[37] On August 6 the Georgian Defense Ministry announced a two week exercise, "Georgian Express 2008", would take place with 180 British military personnel, starting in September.[38]

Also on July 15, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were said to be planning to join the Union of Russia and Belarus, a spokesman for the Union said both regions have talked about joining the Union, but that they would need to be recognized as independent and become observers before they could join the Union as members.[39][40]

According to media reports, on July 19, 2008 a Georgian police post was attacked by Abkhaz militias using grenades; one of the militiamen died from a grenade exploding accidentally. Abkhaz officials condemned the reports as false.[41] Georgian media also reported on July 19 that a battalion of Russian troops had moved into the lower Kodori Gorge.[42] Georgia's Defense Ministry claimed Russian troops encroached on Mamison and Roksky passes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia respectively and are in combat alert. Abkhazia's Foreign Minister said no new troops were brought in over the quota.[43]

A U.N. report issued July 23, 2008 on the period between April and July 2008 noted discrepancies with the Georgian attack of a shooting in Khurcha on the day of Georgian elections. In particular the report noted the way the incident was filmed suggested the attack was anticipated. The report said reconnaissance flights by Georgia were a violation of the ceasefire, but said the shooting down of those fights also constituted a breach of the ceasefire. Concerning a military buildup by Georgia the UN report said it found no evidence of a buildup but noted observers were denied access to certain areas of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia including the Kvabchara Valley.[44]

On July 28, 2008 a spokesman for the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia said South Ossetian forces had blocked peacekeepers and OSCE observers from the village of Cholibauri which is close to where Georgia says South Ossetia is building fortifications.[45] On July 29, 2008 South Ossetia said two South Ossetian villages had been fired on by Georgian forces in response to South Ossetia reinforcing its positions on the perimeter of the conflict zone.[46] Georgia said the same day that Georgian posts on the Sarabuki heights were attacked by South Ossetian forces with no injuries reported.[45]

2008 War in South Ossetia

Question book-new.svg

The factual accuracy of this article may be compromised due to out-of-date information

Russian JPKF peacekeepers base buildings in Tskhinvali, shelled on August 7–8, 2008

On August 1 Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) observers from all three sides and OSCE representatives were investigating a bomb attack which had occurred around 8:05am local time and injured two police officers, reported JPKF commander on media issues Captain Vladimir Ivanov.[47] The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs declared that in the attack 5 police officers had been injured by two remote control explosive devices.[48] Sporadic fighting continued every day and on August 6, there were further shootouts and Georgia acknowledged it had lost an Armoured personnel carrier (APC) during the clashes.[49] After a night of gunfire in which four people died, shelling resumed at daybreak on August 7. Residents were on the move, evacuating vulnerable areas of the South Ossetian capital.[50] Georgia was reportedly moving tanks, artillery and troops to the border with South Ossetia.[51]

However, at the end of the day, Mikhail Saakashvili ordered a unilateral cease-fire. "A sniper war is ongoing against residents of the villages [in the South Ossetian conflict zone] and as I speak now intensive fire is ongoing from artillery, from tanks, from self-propelled artillery systems – which have been brought in the conflict zone illegally – and from other types of weaponry, including from mortars and grenade launchers," Saakashvili said in a live televised address made at 7:10pm local time on August 7.[52]

Georgia suspended this unilateral ceasefire claiming that sniper attacks and other military actions were ongoing against Georgian villages on both sides of the official frontier. Saakashvili claims that in the night from 7th to 8 August 150 Russian tanks crossed the border into Georgia through the Roki-Tunnel.[53] On 8 August, the starting day of Beijing Olympics, Georgia launched a military offensive to "restore constitutional order in the whole region."[54] Georgia started a full-scale attack on the breakaway republic overnight, using tanks, aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry.[55]" Media sources reported that Georgian MRLS started shelling separatist capital, Tskhinvali. South Ossetian authorities and others accused Georgia of committing "planned massacre of Ossetian civilian population: children, elderly and young women".[56][57] The Tshinvali's central hospital, university[58] and some of its schools were also hit.[citation needed]

Georgian military forces attacked suddenly[59] with the strong support of heavy artillery (BM-21 122 mm (5 in) and 152 mm),[60] tanks,[61] and aircraft.[citation needed]

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Annual Report, during the military conflict, the Georgian military used indiscriminate force against the civilian population of South Ossetia, with tank and machine gun fire directed at buildings in Tskhinvali, including an apartment building where civilians were sheltered. The Georgian military used Grad multiple-rocket launchers, an indiscriminate weapon, to destroy targets situated in civilian areas, HRW claims.[62]

HRW further reports that both Georgians and Russians used cluster bombs of the types M85S and RBK 250, resulting in civilian casualties. Georgia admits using cluster bombs against Russian troops and the Roki tunnel but is accused of also hitting civilians fleeing from the battle zone. Russia denies the use of cluster bombs, but is accused of having used them in its attacks against Gori and Ruisi.[63][64]

The Russian military is also accused of using indiscriminate force in attacks in South Ossetia and in the Gori district, and has apparently targeted convoys of civilians attempting to flee the conflict zones.[65]

According to Russian authorities in North Ossetia, part of Russian Federation, 34'000 refugees arrived to Russia from South Ossetia from 2 for 9 August.[66]

After the 2008 war

On August 26, 2008, Russia officially recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.[67]

On August 29, two soldiers serving with the Russian North Ossetian peacekeeping battalion were arrested by Georgian police in the border zone for the "illegal detention" of 4 journalists and three other people, including a 13-year-old boy. They were sentenced to pre-trial custody for two months by a court in Mtskheta, a town close to Tbilisi, on August 30, creating a diplomatic row between Tbilisi and Moscow.[68]

  • On September 10, a Georgian policeman was killed allegedly by Russian soldiers in a village north of Gori.[69]
  • On September 13, a Georgian policeman was killed on the border between Abkhazia and Georgia.[69]
  • On September 21, a Georgian policeman was killed and three wounded on the border between Abkhazia and Georgia.[69]
  • On September 22, two Georgian policemen were wounded by a mine on the border between Abkhazia and Georgia.[69]
  • On September 25, a 13-year-old South Ossetian resident was killed when an explosive device blew up on the outskirts of Tskhinvali.[70]
  • On October 6, an Abkhaz border guard was shot and killed on the border between Abkhazia and Georgia, allegedly by Georgian police commandos.[71]
  • On October 18, Georgian media reported that a bridge in the Adzva village in the Gori district was partly blown up by alleged Ossetian militia.[72]
  • On October 25, a bomb exploded in the Georgian town of Muzhava near the border with Abkhazia killing a villager and the mayor of the town, Gia Mebonia.[73][74]

In mid-October 2008, South Ossetian police were given orders to return fire should they be on the receiving end of a firing from the Georgian side. This was seen as directive that could increase the threat of new violence. South Ossetia's top police official issued this order in response to a police post coming under automatic weapons fire from an ethnic Georgian village. The acting Interior Minister Mikhail Mindzayev said nobody was hurt by the gunfire, although he did refer to it as a series of provocations by Georgians forces.[75]

  • On April 23, 2009, shooting took place on the border between Georgia and South Ossetia. Both sides reported automatic small arms fire, and blamed each other for the incident.[76]
  • On 1 August 2009, Georgia fired two mortar shots upon a South Ossetian Defense Ministry observation outpost from the Georgian community of Ditsi bordering on the Ossetian village of Eredvi, according to South Ossetian Deputy Defense Minister Ibragim Gasseyev.[77] Georgia had previously opened fire on the South Ossetian territory several times in the past few days.[78] The EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) said its patrols on the ground have seen no evidence to confirm that any firing has taken place. However, the monitors said that four explosions took place on the South Ossetian side of the administrative border, but causes were not known.[79]
  • On 4 August 2009, it was reported that tensions were rising before the war's first anniversary on 7 August. The European Union urged "all sides to refrain from any statement or action that may lead to increased tensions at this particularly sensitive time."[80]

See also


  1. A Modern History of Georgia, pp. 228–9. Lang, David Marshall (1962). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. "In the spring of the following year, the Caucasian Bureau of the All-Russian Communist Party formed a special South Ossetian Revolutionary Committee to lead an armed revolt against the Georgian government. A Russian-sponsored Ossete force crossed the border from Vladikavkaz in June 1920 and attacked the Georgian Army and People's Guard. The Georgians reacted with vigour and defeated the insurgents and their supporters in a series of hard-fought battles. Five thousand people perished in the fighting and 20,000 Ossetes fled into Soviet Russia. The Georgian People's Guard displayed a frenzy of chauvinistic zeal during the mopping-up operations, many villages being burnt to the ground and large areas of fertile land ravaged and depopulated."
  2. A Modern History of Georgia, pp. 232–6. Lang, David Marshall (1962). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  3. Collier, Paul; Nicholas Sambanis (2005). Understanding Civil War. World Bank Publications. p. 271. ISBN 0-8213-6049-3. 
  4. Hastening The End of the Empire, TIME Magazine, January 28, 1991
  5. "Pretty Fat Turkey", TIME Magazine, November 27, 1933
  6. America Abroad, TIME Magazine, June 10, 1991
  7. Crisis group 2007 Appendix D
  8. The agree about the details to regulate the Georgia-Ocetian conflict
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Crisis Group page 1
  10. Crisis Group 2004 pages 9–10
  11. Georgia unveils settlement offer, The BBC News, January 25, 2005.
  12. Georgia-South Ossetia: Helicopter attack sparks hostile words. ReliefWeb, September 8, 2006.
  13. South Ossetia Announces Thwarting a Terrorist Plot, Kommersant, November 1, 2006.
  14. Four Chechen gunmen killed in South Ossetia, EuroNews, November 1, 2006.
  15. Head of S.Ossetia Administration Addresses Georgian Parliament. Civil Georgia. May 11, 2007. Retrieved on May 12, 2007.
  16. Eduard Kokoity Makes Siege Mistake. Kommersant. Retrieved on May 12, 2007.
  17. Report Gives Some Details on Missile Strike. Civil Georgia. August 9, 2007.
  18. "Experts Confirm Jet Entered Georgian Airspace From Russia". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  19. "One Dies, Four Injured in S.Ossetia Shootout". Civil Georgia. 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  20. "Crossfire kills one in Georgian breakaway region". Agence France-Presse. 2008-06-15. Archived from the original on 2011-11-26. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  21. "Two Killed in Overnight Shelling in S.Ossetia". Civil Georgia. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
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